Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will both be chasing the lion's share of the $350,000 in prize money on offer during Monday's "The Challenge: Japan Skins" golf event.
Woods will use play at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan, as preparation for the upcoming ZOZO Championship, a tournament set to make history as the inaugural PGA Tour event to be played on Japanese shores when it begins on Thursday, October 24.
Before then, McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama will join 43-year-old Woods for the skins format. It will involve players engaging in matchplay over 18 holes, although some holes will include other challenges to be revealed and explained during the broadcast.
The player who shoots the lowest score will be awarded the value or "skin" assigned the hole. Those values are as follows, according to GolfDigest.com's Christopher Powers:
- Holes 1-6: $10,000 per skin
- Holes 7-12: $15,000 per skin
- Holes 13-17: $20,000 per skin
- Hole 18: $100,000 super skin
- McIlroy: 2-1
- Woods: 10-3
- Matsuyama: 11-4
- Day: 7-2
Odds per Oddschecker.
Date: Monday, October 21
Time: 1 p.m. local time, 12 a.m. ET, 5 a.m. BST
TV Info: NBC Golf Channel
Getting ready for the ZOZO isn't the only thing on Woods' mind. He's also thinking about a place at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. He missed events in Rio four years ago due to injury, but Woods knows next year may be his last chance to represent at this level, per BBC Sport: "I don't see myself having too many opportunities other than next year. Four years from now, at the next Olympic Games, I'll be 48 years old. To be one of the top Americans at that age is going to be tough."
The report noted how the world's best 15 players will be eligible for Olympic consideration. Woods is ninth in the global rankings, but he could improve his standing by winning the ZOZO.
It won't be easy since Woods "last competed in an official fall Tour event in 2011 when he played the Safeway Open," according to Adam Stanley of the PGA Tour official website.
It's why the Skins is such an important warm-up for the 2019 Masters champion. Woods, who underwent knee surgery in August, has proved this year that he can overcome injury woes and still be one of the most skilled players on the planet.
McIlroy merits similar praise and will be at the ZOZO. The 30-year-old also has a point to prove to Brooks Koepka, the man he trails in the world rankings.
Koepka has been quick to dismiss McIlroy as a credible threat to his status:
Both players have numerous honours, and McIlroy will be keen to firm up his game ahead of possibly refuting Koepka's PGA jibe at the ZOZO:
This is a showcase for the big names, but both Woods and McIlroy could find themselves upstaged by Matsuyama. He was picked as a player who will have an advantage by two unnamed caddies interviewed by Stephen Hennessey of GolfDigest.com.
Both noted how the support of the crowd, along with experience on the course, can prove decisive for Matsuyama.
Whoever emerges victorious, this made-for-television golfing spectacle will serve to increase the sport's global popularity.